Wednesday, June 18, 2008

MILTON CANIFF'S NEW YORK

When I started this blog we visited the hometown of Milton Caniff, creator of the comic strips 'Terry & the Pirates' and 'Steve Canyon' to show you Milton Caniff's Hillsboro. From there, Caniff lived in Dayton and Columbus, Ohio, before hitting the big time as a staff artist for the Associated Press in New York City. The Big Apple was part of Milton Caniff’s life from the time he got his job at the AP in 1932, at age 25, until his death in 1988. I was recently able to visit a few of the sites where Caniff lived and worked. My first stop was the Daily News Building, where Caniff shared a studio/office space with fellow artist Noel Sickles from 1934 to 1935. The newspaper no longer occupies the building, but the current owners have kept the historic globe that’s the centerpiece of the lobby (NOTE: this building served as the model for the Daily Planet of the Christopher Reeve ‘Superman’ movies).


A couple of blocks away is Tudor City, a collection of high-rise apartment building towers that is a neighborhood unto itself. Built in the 1920s, this historic complex was relatively new when Caniff moved into his first New York apartment there in 1932. His first home was Prospect Tower. He relocated to Windsor Tower the next year. In 1935, he and Sickles vacated the Daily News office and rented an apartment in Woodstock Tower as their studio. In the summer of '37, Caniff moved out of Tudor City and Manhattan altogether for the quiet life in Rockland County.


A short walk from Tudor City was Caniff’s hangout of a half-century or so – the Palm. The Palm is known now as a high-end steakhouse chain, but it started in the 1920s as a speakeasy called Ganzi’s (the last name of the original co-owner). It was a hangout for cartoonists, who put their skills to work decorating the walls of the restaurant, sometimes in trade for a spaghetti dinner. The tradition continues today, with the walls of the original Palm replete with cartoons and caricatures. Caniff was a regular there for decades, though moreso when he lived in town. Even when he lived outside of the city, the Palm was a sure stop on trips into Manhattan. Interviews with Caniff for a late-career documentary, narrated by Walter Cronkite, were done at the Palm, with Caniff clearly in his comfort zone. I’m not sure if any of Caniff’s work on the walls survives, but alas the Palm is not open on Sunday, so I wasn’t able to look around inside. Also unique to the Palm is the positioning of the next nearest Palm location…it’s the Palm Too, right across the street!

Thanks to R.C. Harvey, whose Caniff biography (linked at right) was the source for all locations and dates. Thanks also to Jeff and Brian, two non-comics fans, for indulging me in a tour of Caniff sites. In the future I’ll have to convince (cajole, persuade, confuse) my wife into visiting some others.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Awesome Matt! Love it! More?

Todd Fox

Matt Tauber said...

This is all of the New York that I have for now. I hope to get to Caniff's Dayton and Columbus, Ohio haunts before too long.

Lucas (Lucai, in the plural form) said...

I was just watching Superman The Movie the other day, so I found your post pretty exciting.

Lucas

Marc Tyler Nobleman, Author of "Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman" said...

Thanks for your post on my blog today, Matt! Liked this post too. I used to live in Tudor City so it was especially fun. Send me your email via the email link on my blog.

Best,
Marc

Marc Tyler Nobleman, Author of "Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman" said...

Oh, my wife rolls her eyes, too. :)